Learning to Smile – A Mother’s Journey to Grace


My guest blogger Kris Bedsworth is a woman of tremendous fortitude. She’s patient, positive, and courageous enough to serve as a substitute teacher in my school, which is no easy feat. We met last year when we were both pregnant with our second children, boys born less than three months apart in the same big city, who returned to the same small town where they will grow up together. But unlike my baby Frank, Kris’ son Hoven will face obstacles both unexpected and unknown. With a mother like Kris, who continues to put all of her faith in God, Hoven will overcome every hurdle. And we will be there to cheer him on. Thank you, Kris, for sharing your story of awe-inspiring hope. You are a blessing, as I’m sure our readers will agree.    


By Kris Bedsworth 


March 6, 2012

2:00 a.m. – My water broke.

2:30 a.m. – We left for hospital.

6:30 a.m. – I heard my son cry, I remember looking at his father – both of us crying from pure joy.


March 7, 2012

It was like a whisper in my ear – something was wrong but nobody would listen.


March 8, 2012


A doctor finally told us something was so wrong. He didn’t know what, so he sent us to another doctor a week later.


March 15, 2012


My baby lay in my arms screaming as they pried opened his eyes. The doctor told us she would need to put Hoven under anesthesia when it was safe (at one month) to tell us for sure what was wrong but it didn’t look good. She warned us that he might be blind, at least in one eye.


During that month I prayed every day, begging God, “Please let my baby see. Take my eyes instead, Lord.”


Not knowing was terrible, I couldn’t figure out what I did in life to make God so mad. How could He give me something so beautiful just to break my heart?


April 20, 2012


At last, the day came for Hoven to be put under. I cried and kissed my baby bye, then stared at the clock as I paced the room.


The hour we spent in waiting room felt like days.


Finally Hoven woke up. I remember running into the room so excited to see him.


When the doctor finally came to talk to us, I took one look at her face and knew it wasn’t good.


She informed us that Hoven was blind, not in one eye but both. Her words sucked the life out of me. My words didn’t come out, I was in shock. My chest hurt. I thought I was dying. I ran out of the room.


I found a quiet little room where I called my mom, as if this was something she could fix. That’s her job right? Isn’t it a mom’s job to fix things? I told her I prayed, so how could this happen? I told her I was so mad at God that I would never pray again.


We had to stay the night at Johns Hopkins so that Hoven could recover from the anesthesia. It was a long day and night, most of which was spent staring out the window, still in complete shock.


April 23, 2012


“Ok, God. If my son has to be blind, just show me the way.”


April 24, 2012- June 28, 2012

 I can’t begin to count how many nights I cried. The pain just didn’t seem like it would ever go away. How could I live knowing my baby would never see my face or a sunny day? So many doctors and people coming and going. The stares, comments, and questions from people were always a reminder of the thing I would never for a moment forget.


I didn’t even know anyone blind? How could I raise him? What do I do? What kind of life could he have? Playing sports? Driving? Prom? Having kids?


Seeing pictures of my friends’ babies upset me. Everything upset me.


It wasn’t until we started meeting other people, and realized that our friends were so kind and supportive that we were able to begin to cope with our unforeseen reality.


Hoven started laughing and became his own little person. I simply began to enjoy every sleepless night and every tear because I felt so blessed that God trusted me so much that He gave me Hoven.


I watch him sleep, I play with him, feed him, bathe him like any mother would do for her “normal” child because he is normal to me.


Hoven is amazing and so beautiful from his little laugh to his bottom lip puckering right before he screams.


I’m not saying I don’t have my moments of weakness where I cry and feel alone, but I no longer wonder “What kind of life will he have?” Instead, I focus the life he will live.


June 29, 2012

I smiled. I smiled because this road hasn’t been ideal but I do enjoy a good road trip.


August-September 2012


Who would have thought that this journey – though short in actual time – could feel both long and rewarding?


I try to make light of some of the situations we come across with Hoven because laughing doesn’t hurt – it’s good for the soul.


For example, one day while I was driving, I reached back with one hand to calm him down and felt something fall in my hand. When I looked down it was Hoven’s prosthetic eye. I had to laugh at that.


I’ve become such a pro at popping Hoven’s eye back in, I simply put it in my pocket until we got home. Now how many people can say they get to put their son’s eye in their back pocket?


I won’t lie – some days I feel overwhelmed and could definitely use a vacation (though it won’t happen anytime soon). I wake up every morning and go to bed every night with one thing on my mind – how can I improve Hoven’s life?


I can’t add up how many hours I spend researching or making phone calls or even begin to count how many tears fall afterwards. I believe knowledge is power, so I continue to try to educate myself and others.


I can proudly say Hoven’s father and I are learning braille, though when we first looked at it, all we saw was a jumble of dots! However, like any other system of reading or writing, braille is based on a logical system. It’s truly amazing!


October 2012


I woke up smiling today – Hoven is sitting up on his own and holding his own bottle. He truly is my inspiration in life. I will never limit Hoven’s possibilities. I will always continue to be his biggest supporter and advocate in life because I believe in him like God believed in me. Today, we are conquering crawling, but tomorrow it’s The White House.


Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.